Saturday 23 February 2013

A Realm Reborn: Final Fantasy XIV Benchmark

The first benchmark demo for Square Enix's reboot of «Final Fantasy XIV» was made available to the public yesterday. «Final Fantasy XIV» was originally released in 2010 to less than stellar reviews, and the reboot is due to start its beta testing phase in a few days. Is this second attempt going to be able to redeem the «Final Fantasy Online» name? It is still a little early to say, but based on the demo, I am cautiously optimistic.

The «Final Fantasy Online» games have traditionally had at least one of these benchmarks available as part of their promotional material ever since the early days of «Final Fantasy XI». In fact, it was a benchmark demo which eventually sold me on that particular game (have a look at the video at the bottom of this article to see the footage in question).

Compared to the benchmark that accompanied the abysmal original release of «Final Fantasy XIV», which basically was just a copy of the game's rather drab and boring intro sequence, this new one is a proverbial firework of locations, monsters, characters and special effects.

Monday 18 February 2013

Eye of the Beholder

«Eye of the Beholder» box art by Jeff Easley
As the eighties were ending, Metallica raged about the nature of freedom in their song «Eye of the Beholder». A role-playing video game (RPG) with the same name came out a few years later. Even though the two had little in common, role-playing games and metal went hand in hand in those days. As such, the title may have lured quite a few role-playing metal-heads to try the game out. 

The game «Eye of the beholder» from 1990 is a grid based RPG with a first person perspective. It is not the first game in this genre. That honor belongs to «Dungeon Master» from 1987, which in many ways was a much more revolutionary game.

«Eye of the Beholder» is however the game most people think about when they reminisce about old first person RPGs on computers. Likely because it was totally awesomez.

Winning formula

The game is based on the rule system from the tabletop role-playing game «Advanced Dungeons & Dragons», which the year before had been released in a new, polished and user friendly second edition.

It also had respectable pedigree. Westwood, the developers, might have yet to make a proper name for themselves, but the publisher was Strategic Simulations Inc (SSI), whom were established heroes of the computer RPG scene due to their «Gold Box» series of games. This series, which started with «Pool of Radiance», was also based on «Advanced Dungeons & Dragons».